Editorial of the “World”. Gloomy retreat. After having withdrawn their troops, the Western countries engaged alongside the United States in Afghanistan finish repatriating their nationals in July. The most scrupulous took their Afghan collaborators and interpreters with them, thus avoiding certain reprisals from the Taliban, once their employers had left.
Inglorious, this departure from Afghanistan is almost pitiful, so much does it resemble an abandonment. The longest American intervention abroad, launched in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks to prevent Al-Qaida from planning other attacks from its Afghan lair, ended twenty years later with a sad toll. This war claimed the lives of tens of thousands of civilians, more than 3,500 NATO troops and many more Afghan soldiers, not to mention the wounded and maimed for life.
Driven from power at the start of the American offensive, the Taliban, the fundamentalists who protected Osama bin Laden, are making a spectacular comeback in many districts of the country as foreign forces leave the territory. Their progress since the United States completed its military withdrawal on July 3, stuns experts. The hypothesis of a government of national unity in Kabul, made up of the current regime and the Taliban, seems less and less feasible.
An unmanageable war
Realistically, the Biden administration does not care about an unmanageable war on the other side of the world, when so many emergencies monopolize it in its own country and elsewhere. In Washington, the Iraqi fiasco has, for some time no doubt, cooled the ardor of supporters of foreign intervention. The US president argues that, in intervening in Afghanistan, the US was not aiming to rebuild the nation. “It is up to the Afghans and them alone to decide their future and how they want to run their country”, he assures. That is. In twenty years of presence, however, they have changed the lives of many Afghans. One category of the population, in particular, has a lot to lose with the departure of Westerners: women.
It is they, in fact, who risk the most if the Taliban return to power in Kabul. In twenty years, their status has changed considerably. Not without difficulty, they entered school (today, 40% of Afghan children attending school are girls), at university, they have invested in sectors of the world of work that were totally prohibited to them, including within the police. Fundamentalists have done everything to stop this development. They murdered women journalists, doctors, police officers, artists. They massacred schoolgirls, attacked maternity hospitals. For all these women, the war is not over.
During their five-year rule, from 1996 until the intervention of the Americans, the Taliban imposed on Afghan girls and women the harshest interpretation of Islamic law and total submission, severely punishing the rebels. Education beyond the age of eight was prohibited, as was paid work. For those Afghan women whom America has prided itself on having helped liberate by opening up the prospect of equality to them, the return of the Taliban would be a gigantic step backwards. Whatever Joe Biden says, in this regard, this withdrawal is indeed an abandonment.